Thanks to Michal Radoshitzky, director of foreign relations for the Israeli Geneva Initiative organization, which promotes the Geneva Accord of December 2003, the following is featured in the coming Winter 2010 issue of ISRAEL HORIZONS magazine:
… A political vacuum is what catalyzed the creation of the Geneva Accord and Initiative during the darkest days of the Sharon government. It is what led Israelis and Palestinians to embark on Track II [unofficial] diplomacy and surprise the world–and much more so Israelis and Palestinians–with a detailed plan to end the conflict. The Geneva Accord is a joint Israeli-Palestinian model for a permanent-status agreement from 2003, which illustrates that it is possible to end the conflict and to meet the desires of the majorities in both nations. Yet while the Geneva Initiative did succeed in demonstrating that there is a partner for peace on the other side and that peace is indeed possible … the text is filled with references to what has been described by many to be a mysterious “Annex X.” …
Over the last two years, the Accord annexes have been drafted and incorporated into a 423-page book. The following summarizes each of these annexes:
- Security: Palestine will be a non-militarized state but with strong internal security forces. The annex details, among other things: what tasks will be assigned to the Palestinian security forces, the stages of withdrawal of the Israeli security forces, and the nature and order of the Israeli forces that will temporarily remain at the international border crossings. So too does the annex list which weapons will be prohibited (essentially offensive military weaponry) within the borders of Palestine.
- Gaza-West Bank Corridor: A corridor will be built between Gaza and the West Bank which will be under Israeli sovereignty but under full Palestinian control. The main characteristics of the corridor is that it will be lower than ground level and will be wide enough to allow passage of vehicles and a train. The annex describes, among other things, that entrance and exit to and from the corridor will be from its two ends in Gaza and the West Bank only, and that the Palestinian security forces will be the authority responsible for law enforcement within the corridor. In addition, the annex details the means of security that will be installed throughout and inside this corridor.
- Implementation and Verification Group (IVG): International forces will aid the two sides in implementing the agreement, in mediating between them and in protecting the non-militarized Palestinian state from external threats. This annex details the composition of this force including its headquarters, implementation arm, military branch and policing unit.
- Multinational Presence at Temple Mount: Another international force which will be placed in the area will be positioned at Temple Mount/Al-Haram al-Sharif. This force will be comprised of representatives of the states and organizations which are members of the IVG and of representatives of the states and organizations which are members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. This force will provide additional back-up to Palestinian security forces at the Temple Mount/Al-Haram al-Sharif in ensuring that no excavation, building and maintenance work which is inconsistent with the agreement between the two sides takes place. The annex also details the structure of the security branch and observation branch of this force.
- Jerusalem: The Jerusalem annex demonstrates what the border passages between Israel and Palestine would look like under a permanent agreement. The annex details a number of selected models that could be copied to different places and exemplifies the arrangement at the French Hill interchange, where a large terminal will be created to allow passage between Jerusalem and Al-Quds. Likewise, the annex details the arrangement for route 60, which will become a bi-national road, and the pedestrian border crossing between the two sides. According to the Geneva Initiative, the Old City will remain accessible to both sides, but sovereignty over it will be divided between Palestine and Israel. Entering the Old City with weapons will be prohibited. The annex also demonstrates the implementation of passages through the city gates.
- Designated Roads: Israelis will be allowed to travel on three Palestinian roads without the regular border crossing procedures. In order to drive on such a road, Israeli drivers will have to register at an Israeli control station where a surveillance device (similar to a GPS) will be installed in their vehicle. At the end of the journey on this road, each Israeli vehicle will undergo another Israeli inspection to ensure that all passengers who entered the road, exit it. An Israeli vehicle will not be permitted to enter or exit Palestine via a designated road.
Designated roads will have an international force presence in order to monitor movement and intervene in cases of interaction between Israelis and Palestinians (in the case of road accidents or car trouble, for example).
- Water: Israel and Palestine will re–divide their shared water. In addition to wells, springs and water sources that will be transferred to Palestinian territory as part of the final-status agreement, there will also be shared water sources which are detailed in the annex and to which the agreement will apply. The amount of water that will be transferred from Israel to Palestine as part of this redistribution will be determined on the basis of an equation that will include the hydrological and climatic conditions at the time that the agreement is signed. This equation will be subject to revision in the case that there are significant changes in its components over the years.
In order to allow the proper management of water resources, a shared database will be established, along with a shared water commissionership.
- International Border Crossing: Border crossings, similar in nature to the border crossings between Israel and Jordan and Israel and Egypt, will be created between Israel and Palestine. Two border crossings will be open seven days a week, 24 hours a day. All other border crossings will be open five days a week between 6:00 AM and 8:00 PM.
- Inter-Religious Council: The inter-religious council will operate in Jerusalem and will include 21 members: 10 from Israel, 10 from Palestine and one additional member who will be appointed by UNESCO. The council will operate from Jerusalem and will advise the two sides on matters relating to religion, freedom of worship and holy sites, among other issues.
- Environment: Israel and Palestine will commit to maintaining international standards in a variety of fields relating to the environment so as to ensure the correction of past injustices to the environment, and thus guarantee a better future for all. To this end, the mechanisms, committees and mutual commitments that both sides obligate themselves to are listed in detail. The annex includes detailed measures for the mutual struggle against air and water pollution; there is also a list of protected wildlife and regulations for their treatment, as well as details concerning the recycling of garbage on both sides.
- Economy: This annex provides an economic roadmap and deals with the way in which cooperation between the Israeli and Palestinian economies would be possible on matters of transport and electricity. It demonstrates how both economies would develop and benefit from such cooperation. The document was originally written by the Aix group and proposes the existence of a separate economic system for each state with the creation of Israeli-Palestinian cooperation mechanisms to the benefit of both sides.
- Refugees: The solution on the matter of refugees is drawn up in the original agreement (i.e., the 2003 Geneva Accord). The annex on refugees has not yet been completed. There is reference to the work that was done by an independent team which details the mechanisms and procedures necessary for implementing the refugee compensation mechanism.
- Link to the Arab Peace Initiative: The Arab Peace Initiative was adopted by the Arab League in 2002. This initiative offers an end to the Israeli-Arab conflict and normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab world, should a Palestinian state be established. Implementing the Geneva Accord, in addition to sealing peace agreements with Syria and Lebanon, will enable the Arab Peace Initiative to take effect.
You can read further about the Geneva Accord, and now its annexes, online at www.geneva-accord.org.